Oakley, Kenneth George (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 17294
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 150, Number Of Items 5
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British seaman served aboard HMS Neptune in Mediterranean and Atlantic, 1940-1941; served aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in Mediterranean, 1941 including sinking in Alexandria harbour, 12/1941; served with F Commando, Royal Naval Commandoes, Combined Operations in GB, Mediterranean, 1942-1944; served with beachmaster's bodyguard on Queen Red One Sector, Sword Beach, Normandy, 1944

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Dawley, GB, 1921-1939: family; education; reaction to declaration of Second World War. Aspects of enlistment and training with Royal Navy in GB, 1939-1940: enlistment as regular at Hanley, 10/1939; training at HMS Royal Arthur, Skegness. Recollections of operations as seaman aboard HMS Neptune in Mediterranean and Atlantic, 1940-1941: character of voyage aboard HMS Carlise from GB to Mediterranean, early 1940; joining ship in Alexandria; function of 'scran bag'; advice about keeping clothes clean and dry; punishment for misdemeanours; further details of 'scran bag'; relations with French seamen after surrender, summer 1940; duties as blacksmith's mate; action station on 4 inch anti- aircraft guns; opinion of Italian Air Force attacks on the ship; in action during Battle of Calabria, 7/1940; return to GB for refit via Red Sea; pursuit of German raiders in South Atlantic. REEL 2 Continues: search of Kerguelen Island; supplementing ship's rations; transporting General De Gaulle; capture of German merchantmen off west Africa; storm damage to ship and reasons for not joining fleet during hunt for Bismarck; attack on ship by German fighter off east coast of GB; voyage to Mediterranean after working up trials; attitude to leaving ship; method of sorting out bad feeling between mutually antagonistic seamen. Recollections of operations as seaman aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in Mediterranean, 1941: drafting to ship, 10/1941; attitude to serving aboard battleship; his action station; bombarding Axis forces on North African coast; sight of sinking of HMS Barham, 11/1941 and subsequent arrest of ship's photographer for disobeying order not to photograph incident; Italian mining of ship in Alexandria harbour, 12/1941; attempts to deceive Axis about their success and effect on morale of sinking. REEL 3 Continues: reaction to explosion; effect on morale of Christmas pantomime aboard ship. Aspects of voyage from Egypt to GB via South Africa, 3/1942: ashore in Durban, South Africa; guarding German POWs aboard Duchess of Bedford; sight of Lady in White singing at Durban. Aspects of training with Royal Naval Commandoes, Combined Operations in GB, 1942: drafting to Beith; training at HMS Quebec at Inverary; allocation to F Commando. Recollections of operations as seaman with F Commando, Royal Naval Commandoes, Combined Operations in GB and Mediterranean, 1942-1944: nature of landings at Algiers; clash between unit members and US patrol, 11/1942; return to GB; uniform worn by Royal Navy commandoes; voyage from GB to Suez Canal aboard Sobieski; character of Sicilian landings at Evola, 7/1943. REEL 4 Continues: how his landing craft was hit by Axis artillery fire during Sicilian landings, 7/1943; using Bren gun to fire on German Messerschmitt Me 109s; return to GB via Malta; clash with military policeman over his uniform at Shrewsbury Station; dealing with psychological effects of the hit on the landing craft during Sicilian landings; impressions of specialist tanks being introduced in Scotland; obtaining home leave during journey south; in holding camp at Cowplain. Recollections of operations with beachmaster's bodyguard with Royal Naval Commandoes, Combined Operations on Queen Red One Sector, Sword Beach, Normandy, D-Day, 6/6/1944: boarding ship for landings, 4/6/1944; address by officer on landing craft, 5/6/1944; character of landing; casualties on beach. REEL 5 Continues: wounding of comrade Sid Coxton; sound of Piper Bill Millin of Lovat Scouts playing bagpipes on beach; dealing with congestion on beach; wounding of Lieutenant Commander Edward Guerritz, 26/6/1944; attending burial of dead at Hermanville, 9/6/1944; evacuation of Sid Coxton in DUKW from Arromanches; assistant beachmaster requested to wear white jacket during landings; story of being reprimanded for urinating in wrong place on Sword Beach; reconnaissance of large house on beach and its loss as potential headquarters; duties as beachmaster's bodyguard; sight of rocket firing landing craft firing in direction of Merville Battery; degree of German opposition in sector; scrounging for food; his return to GB, 10/7/1944.

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